Breaking Ground at the Mary Baker Eddy Historic House in Lynn

Representatives from the Longyear Museum Board of Trustees gather on the back lawn at the Mary Baker Eddy Historic House in Lynn, Massachusetts, to commemorate the upcoming exterior restoration of this house.

One hundred and thirty-five years after Mary Baker Eddy purchased the house on Broad Street in Lynn, Massachusetts, this historic structure is about to be transformed back into its original state, so that it will resemble much more closely the house Mrs. Eddy lived in and knew. The exterior restoration of the house in which she founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, is set to begin in just a few weeks.

Longyear Museum trustees and staff observed this milestone with a commemorative ground-breaking ceremony at the house on May 18, 2010, as part of the annual trustee and staff meeting. The afternoon program included remarks from trustees and the preservation architect, guided tours by Longyear staff members, and refreshments served in the garden.

“I am filled with gratitude that Mary Baker Eddy’s first house – a symbol of our Leader’s seeking and finding – will soon be restored to how she knew it in the 1800s,” said Gail Hewitt, Chairman of the Longyear Board of Trustees. “This preservation work will provide visitors with a historically accurate site at which to learn about the foundations of the Christian Science movement, and to see where Mrs. Eddy finished writing the first edition of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.”

Longyear purchased the Lynn house in late 2006. Since then, Museum staff members have worked closely with preservation specialists, architects, and landscape historians to better understand the home where Mrs. Eddy lived from 1875 to 1882, and where she laid the foundations of the Christian Science movement.

“We’ve uncovered a huge amount of information about this house that Mary Baker Eddy lived in,” said Preservation Architect Gary Wolf during the recent ground-breaking celebration. “Some of these things have not been seen for over a century because of the changes to the house after Mrs. Eddy moved away from Lynn.”

The original floor plan of the house, finishes, and surrounding neighborhoods that Longyear’s research work has revealed, tell a vastly different story than the one suggested by the current structure and its adjacent parking lot. During the past three years, no clue was considered insignificant as specialists uncovered the original floors, paint colors, wallpaper fragments, and landscape elements with which Mrs. Eddy would have lived. As part of the restoration effort to take the house back to the way Mrs. Eddy knew it, for example, the back door will be relocated to its original place.

In conjunction with this project, accessibility improvements will include a modern entrance with a lift to the first floor and to the basement, where new accessible bathrooms will be installed. The new vestibule is designed to blend harmoniously with the historic house, without appearing to be part the original structure. Thanks to generous donations from Museum members and friends from around the globe, and a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, Phase One of this project is fully funded.

Longyear Trustee June Austin opened the celebration with readings from the Bible and Mary Baker Eddy’s writings. She also shared remarks about the significance of the occasion.
The cake was decorated with the artist’s rendering of the restored Lynn house.
Gail Hewitt, Chairman of the Longyear Museum Board of Trustees, cuts the cake alongside members of the Museum’s Historic House team.
Gary Wolf of Gary Wolf Architects, Inc. discusses the restoration project at the Mary Baker Eddy Historic House in Lynn, Massachusetts.
Longyear Museum trustees, staff, and special guests on the back porch of the Mary Baker Eddy Historic House in Lynn, Massachusetts.